Radio Series: Hymns of the Faith: Hymns of the Faith: Man of Sorrows

by Bill Wymond, Derek Thomas, J. Ligon Duncan on September 6, 2013

of the Faith

“Man of Sorrows! What a Name.”

A Presentation of First Presbyterian Church

Ligon Duncan, Dr. Derek Thomas, Dr. Bill Wymond

Dr. Duncan:
Good morning, Bill and good morning, Derek.
Welcome to “Hymns of the Faith.”
Great to see you today. How
are you, Derek?

Dr. Thomas:
I’m well. Thank you, Ligon.

Dr. Duncan:
Thanks for joining me and we are looking at, again, one of my favorite
hymns today. It’s a Philip Bliss
text and tune and I can’t wait to ask Billy Wymond about that, but my guess is
that many people in our listening audience are going to know and love this hymn,
“Man of Sorrows! What a Name.”
Now the minute I hear that I have a tune in my head, but for those of you
who don’t, Bill Wymond would you play, “Man of Sorrows!
What a Name” for us?

I love that hymn. I love the
tune. I love the repeat phrase at
the end that echoes through each of the stanzas.
Tell us a little bit about the tune.
It’s interesting to me that Philip Bliss wrote both, for instance, text
and tune.

Dr. Wymond:
It’s interesting to me because it comes out of that moody-psyche period
of time in the end of the 19th century when so much evangelism was
being done and they were conscious of the importance of the songs that they used
in their evangelistic services. And
so they called on Philip Bliss, they used Fannie Crosby, other hymns, and Philip
Bliss supplied some several of the really energetic hymns that they used.
But this particular hymn is interesting because it has two moods in it
and it follows closely what the words talk about.
The first part is very solemn sounding as it’s talking about the Man of
Sorrows and a lot of the times we’ll do it sort of slowly so it has that kind of
very serious thing. And then when it
turns to talking about the Redeemer, the Savior, and praising Him, “Hallelujah!
What a Savior!” it takes on a very joyful air.
And I’m interesting in the fact that when that “Hallelujah!” is done it
is in that kind of a dotted rhythm which may have just come from the
subconscious of Bliss, from his knowledge of the “Hallelujah Chorus” or of
Handelian things you know – that kind of dotted stuff there.

Anyway, what I think is interesting about this tune also is that it does
stretch you because it does make you go up sort of high if you take it in the
original keys, right there in that last part when it does the “Hallelujah!”

Dr. Duncan:
About what range do people normally have?
I mean just average lay-folk in the congregation.
What sort of a range of singing do they have?

Dr. Wymond:
When this hymn was written in the 19th century there were many
hymns that were pitched that would go up to what we call a “high E” — that note.
Today, I suspect most congregational people are not comfortable going
much above about a “C.” It’s about a
third down. Some of our hymns go to this
“D” which this song does, but our voices have dropped.
I think it’s for two reasons.
There isn’t as much singing going on now in groups.
Folks just don’t gather to sing anymore and something about our
physiology. Somehow voices are
deeper than they used to be. It has
to do partly with health issues I think.
In this instance we’re more healthy aren’t we?

Dr. Duncan:
So in typical hymns, what, you have about an octave, octave and a half
that they’ll range, or more than that?

Dr. Wymond:
Most hymns just have about a range of an octave, eight notes, something
like that. Some will have a twelfth
or so on but that’s a real stretch and you have to be real careful.
I like for us, in our congregation, to put our hymns down so that our
people don’t sing above a “D” but if you have one of those hymns that has a wide
range then you run into trouble on the lower end because it gets too low for the

Dr. Duncan:
Now this one, this one is a pretty limited — it’s within an octave, isn’t

Dr. Wymond:
It is. In fact, it is an

Dr. Duncan:
And it’s interesting to me that within that relatively limited range and
with a relative simplicity, especially before you get to the “Hallelujah!
What a Savior” part, it still manages to be an interesting tune.

Dr. Wymond:
And again I think it’s both the tune and the harmony and the harmony, as
I say, are solemn.

Dr. Thomas:
Unless they’re in your good hands, Bill, this hymn can become a bit of a
dirge if it’s played, especially if the ending is played too slowly.
The contrast that you make, I think it makes the hymn when that
“Hallelujah! What a Savior” is —

Dr. Duncan:

Dr. Thomas:
Yes, and speed it up just a little.

Dr. Wymond:
We do that. We even speed up
verses here as it starts talking about the coming of the glorious King at the
end we actually increase the tempo to reflect the mood there.

Dr. Duncan:
Yeah. That’s good.
You know it strikes me — you’ve told us before Bill that one of the marks
of a strong hymn is often a repeated initial note and this one — dun, dun, dun —
and it helps people too that aren’t necessarily musical to get on board with the
stanza and start singing along because they don’t have to fish around to find
where the next note is. It’s right
there — dun, dun, dun.

Dr. Wymond:
Lots of repeated notes — and here we come again — two more.
And in the last part it does the same thing and so it really pounds in
your head.

Dr. Duncan:
Derek, another thing I love about this song is that it tells a story, and
even as it tells a story it raises interesting things in your heart and you mind
for devotional purposes. Like, I
love just in the first six words of the song it’s asking you to contemplate
something. It says, “Man of Sorrows!
What a name” and it’s already asking you to just think, just think that
God’s own Son was called a Man of Sorrows.
Now there’s enough in that thought right there for a believer to meditate
all Sunday on! You know?
So often we ask ourselves questions like “Why is this happening to me?”
or “What’s going on in my life?”
Well boy would it do us good to contemplate that our Lord and Savior was named a
Man of Sorrows, that He was characterized as Isaiah says, as a “Man of Sorrows
and acquainted with grief.” There’s
a world of theology, isn’t there, in that?

Dr. Thomas:
Yes, I often think of Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones pointing out, as he did on
several occasions, that you never read of Jesus laughing or telling a joke. Now,
if you ask the question, “Did Jesus have a sense of humor?” then you can answer,
“Well of course, of course.” But
that’s not His portrayal in the Gospels because His fundamental reason for
coming into the world was to be a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief.
It’s an illusion of course to the servant songs of Isaiah, the fourth one
in particular in Isaiah 52, 53, that He was a “Man of Sorrows and acquainted
with grief” and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him, that “the foxes have
holes and the birds of the air have their nests but the Son of Man has nowhere
to lay His head.” And when things,
perhaps especially of Gethsemane, and the agony
and blood sweat as it were — great drops of blood falling to the ground — but
that that would be His name, that He is the Man of Sorrows.
He’s called by many names but Man of Sorrows is one of His names.

Dr. Duncan:
So it starts off asking us this question — “what a name for the Son of
God, who came ruined sinners to reclaim” — to think He’s on the noblest mission
in the history of the universe and yet He’s characterized as a Man of Sorrows.
It already has us thinking about God’s great love to us in sending His
Son to reclaim ruined sinners. I
love the phrase, “ruined sinners,” not because it exonerates us from
responsibility, but it does point to the misery that comes with sin, doesn’t it?

Dr. Thomas:
As a result of Adam’s transgression in the Garden,
Eden is ruined.
The place of paradise has been barred from us.
We are ruined in every aspect, every fabric of our existence.
And He’s come for the work of reclamation, to reclaim us.
We were thinking of Philip Bliss — this is Philip Bliss — we were
thinking of Frank Horton’s hymn a week or so ago, the same idea of Jesus raising
us up from the state of ruin that we find ourselves in.

Dr. Duncan:
The second stanza continues the theme and the theme does come very much
out of Isaiah 53 for this hymn. Walk
us through the second stanza, Derek.

Dr. Thomas:
“Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood, sealed
my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!”
Again, the “bearing shame and scoffing rude” is drawn directly from that
Suffering Servant song in Isaiah 53, that He was despised and rejected by men; a
Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid, as it were, our faces from

Dr. Duncan:
“He gave His back to the smiters;” the libretto of Handel’s “Messiah”
reminds us.

Dr. Thomas:
Explain the phrase, “scoffing rude.”
It probably needs a little bit of explanation.

Dr. Duncan:
Well partly it’s a reference to the mocking that the Lord Jesus endured,
especially at the cross but of course throughout the whole course of His life.
He endured the rejection of the religious leaders of His day who scoffed
on Him as uneducated, theologically incorrect, presumptuous, out of accord with
the Sanhedrin, etc., etc. He was
scoffed at all His life so that He is the One who gives us the phrase that “a
prophet is not without honor but in his own country.”
And He was not held in honor.
He was scoffed at. But of course
supremely at the cross where He was mocked even by the thieves at the beginning
of the day who were themselves being crucified.

Dr. Thomas:
“If You are the Son of God, save Yourself and us.”

Dr. Duncan:

Dr. Thomas:
And you have the scene of the soldiers mocking Him from below.

Dr. Duncan:
Yes. “If You’re the Son of
God, come down.”

Dr. Thomas:
And parting His garments and so on, but then of course you’ve got the
wonderful line, “in my place condemned He stood.”
How important are those little words, “in my place.”

Dr. Duncan:
You know I can’t think of many things in all of the Christian life that
is more important than just resting on the glory of those truths for one’s
Christian experience. Of course that
is the title of the book that Mark Dever and J.I. Packer recently produced that
deals with the theme of Jesus vicarious on our behalf, substitutionary in our
place, atonement in which He propitiated or quitted the wrath of God against us
by enduring in our place the penalty and condemnation for our sin.

Dr. Thomas:
And in the Greek New Testament there’s a very special, particular way
that that meaning is put, in a way that perhaps Greek can do so in a way that
English cannot.

Dr. Duncan:
Yeah, we’ll there’re little Greek prepositions, aren’t there?
huper and
anti, all of which are used to talk about Jesus on our behalf or in
our stead or in our room or in our place or instead of us, bearing the wrath of

Dr. Thomas:
Now if — sometimes folk will ask the questions, particularly today, that
for an innocent man to suffer for me is somehow unfair.
I mean it is contrary to justice.
How would you respond to that.
Well, I mean there are several ways to respond to it.
One is, almost all traditions of humanity have had circumstances in which
one man stands for a whole nation.
This was common, for instance, in ancient battle.
Very often one champion would be chosen for an entire nation and he would
go out and battle another champion from another nation and the outcome of that
battle would be determinative for the entire nation.
So that in the Bible itself you have David standing in for the whole
nation of Israel
when he went to battle Goliath. And
the deal was, if David lost, then the armies of Israel lost in him and the
consequences for David’s loss in the battle were the consequences for the whole
nation. But because God, in His
grace and mercy, strengthened David and Goliath lost, it was the Philistines who
had to withdraw from that field of battle.

So the idea of one
champion standing in for another is a very time honored ideal.

Now switch the battle
metaphor to a more legal metaphor for a moment and think about how you find
circumstances, both in the Bible and in general culture, where people legally
take on responsibility for other people.
One of the beautiful examples in the Bible is in the story of Ruth.
I love it when you tell about the kinsman redeemer in the book of Ruth
where Boaz steps into a legal responsibility that he didn’t have to step into,
but he takes upon himself a legal responsibility that has tremendous
consequences for another. So the
Bible certainly validates people stepping into this sort of a responsibility.

Dr. Thomas:
One leading evangelical has called the idea of someone who is innocent
being punished on behalf of others “cosmic child abuse” but it’s important,
isn’t it, to stress that Jesus did this voluntarily.

Dr. Duncan:
Well, yes. I mean J.I. Packer
himself has been rightly dismissive of that kind of language being used for
Jesus’ death on the cross because ultimately it is not the Father acting apart
from the Son’s on desire to stand in our place.
So it’s before the foundation of the world the Father says to the Son
that, “the only way that justice can be done and My righteousness upheld and My
mercy shown on a multitude that no man can number is if someone stands in their
stead for them and is met out with all the punishment due to them.”
And the Son says, “My Father, I will take that punishment.”
And He affirms that throughout His life.
Think how over and over He says to His disciples, “It is My meat, it is
My food, to do the will of Him who sent Me.”
And what is His will? To die
in the stead of His people that He might shower His grace upon them.
So this is the Son saying, “Father, I’ll take that man’s sin, I’ll take
his punishment. I’ll stand in his
place.” You’re absolutely right —
the Son’s willing embrace of this fate, of this doom, of this condemnation, of
this penalty, is essential to understanding what’s going on at the cross.

Dr. Thomas:
Well you have substitution theology here but then it goes on to blood
theology — “sealed my pardon with His blood.”
Why did Jesus have to die?

Dr. Duncan:
Because we had to die. “The
wages of sin is death.” So how is
sin dealt with? Someone has to die.
I mean, isn’t that the picture of the covenant itself?

Dr. Thomas:
So if Jesus had gone, say as far as Jerusalem, and said, “I
love you” and then disappeared, that wouldn’t have been enough.

Dr. Duncan:
Then we are still in our sins. Now only did He have to die, Paul says He
had to be raised again from the dead or we’re still in our sins.
And so for the apostle Paul it’s absolutely essential that He’s
crucified, dead, buried, and raised again.

Dr. Thomas:
It’s important enough simply for Him to die like you and I will die and
be buried. The blood signifies a
judgmental death.

Dr. Duncan:
Yes, and the resurrection signifies God’s acceptance of that blood in our
stead such that Jesus is vindicated and thus we are vindicated in Him.

Dr. Thomas:
Well, we have substitution theology and blood theology but then in the
third stanza we’ve got perhaps worm theology, although the word worm isn’t used,
but “guilty, vile, and helpless.”
Now surely he’s going too far.

Dr. Duncan:
Don’t you love how Bliss gives you, it’s the Bible’s language — it’s not
Bliss’ language — but he gives those words, he puts those words in your mouth so
that you can sing to God what you really are.

Dr. Thomas:
But you have to believe that there are those who certainly want to remove
the word, “vile.”

Dr. Duncan:
Bless their hearts. What sad
people who have to assuage their consciences by pretending that they’re not what
they are. I thank God that He lets
me sing what I really am to Him. And
as I said not long ago — I was saying to the congregation as we were reading
through a psalm — you know that psalmist who confesses what he really is before
God, these people who are out there all concerned about worm theology, they’re
not nearly so happy as the man or the woman who stands before God on Sunday
morning and Sunday evening with His people and says, “Lord, guilty, vile, and
helpless I am.” The happiest person
in the world is the person who knows that truth and who knows the next truth
that’s sung about in this stanza.

Dr. Thomas:
“Spotless Lamb of God.” Now
Bill Wymond’s a nice guy. Could he
do it for us? Could he save us?

Dr. Duncan:
There is no one but Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is spotless, sinless,
without blemish, perfect, completely righteous before God.
“There is no one righteous, no not one,” the apostle Paul says in Romans
quoting the Old Testament — only Jesus Christ.

Dr. Thomas:
And what’s this thing about “full atonement”?
What’s the meaning of the word, “full”?

Dr. Duncan:
It means that what He offered was what I needed.
It was not something that was accepted in the stead of what I needed, it
was exactly what I needed. Every
ounce of God’s wrath against me due to my sin was not cancelled but absorbed and
quitted in the death of Jesus Christ.
I love the way that John Murray puts this, “In Jesus’ death on the cross,
our debts were not cancelled, they were liquidated.”
It was a fully atonement. He
did not pay the price that God accepted in the stead of what we deserved; He
paid the price that we deserved. I
can still remember Donald Macleod saying, “It is a solemn thing to think that
our Savior did not receive more than we deserved.
He received what we deserved on the cross.”

Dr. Thomas:
And how can I know that it was enough?

Dr. Duncan:
Because of the next stanza in this song — “Lifted up was He to die, ‘It
is finished!’ was His cry.” The Lord
Jesus Himself, in His final words to His heavenly Father from the cross says, “I
fulfilled it Lord. I finished it.
I’ve done what You required.”
And so from your Savior’s lip, He said, “I’ve paid it all.
I’ve done everything that was necessary.”

Dr. Thomas:
And then we go from the incarnation to the cross and in the fifth verse
we go all the way to the end.

Dr. Duncan:
“When He comes, our glorious King” — and I love the way that you bring
out the fact that the Christian life is always lived in anticipation of
something. The next great event that
we will experience is described for us in stanza 5 — “When He comes, our
glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring, then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

Dr. Thomas:
Will everybody sing that song?

Dr. Duncan:
Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation as He is
offered in the Gospel. Let’s hear
this great hymn, Derek.

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Bearing shame
and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned he stood,
Sealed my pardon with
his blood:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Guilty, vile, and helpless, we;
Spotless Lamb of God was he;
Full atonement! can it be?
Hallelujah! what a

Lifted up was he to die,
“It is finished!” was his cry:
Now in heav’n exalted high:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

When he comes,
our glorious King,
All his ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song
we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Dr. Wymond:

This has been “Hymns of the Faith,” brought to you by Jackson’s First Presbyterian Church.

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